Midlands Voices: Tailored education could reduce risks of cancer for Nebraskans | Columnists

According to the American Cancer Society, nearly half of all cancer diagnoses and nearly half of all cancer deaths can be prevented. The statistics are impressive, but, as the great Dr. Irving Selicaff said, “statistics are just numbers, tears wiped away.”

So how can we achieve the goal of turning such statistics from tears into cancerous victories? Education is the key.

According to ACS, lung cancer, colorectal cancer and breast cancer are among the three biggest cancer killers in the U.S., accounting for 1,240 deaths in Nebraska this year. In Nebraska, pancreatic cancer replaces breast cancer as the third most common cause of death from cancer. We could reduce the incidence of all cancers if we just did what we already know: limit sun exposure and ultraviolet light, avoid tobacco products, limit alcohol consumption, be active, eat right, maintain a healthy weight, get cancer vaccines, get vaccinated on cancer, know your family history and take preventative care.

Dr. Alan Thorson


Sounds great, but do you know what these recommendations mean? How much alcohol is normal? What is a healthy weight for me? What is a healthy, anti-cancer diet? What is a cancer vaccine? What is important in family history?

People also read…

  • Nebraska women’s basketball players dismiss Chuck Lava’s assistant, remove Ashley Skogin from the list
  • McEvon: Nebraska women’s basketball answered on the court, but questions remain
  • Nebraska Sen. Mike Green says he will step down from the legislature amid allegations
  • The story is made at the Nebraska State High School Wrestling Tournament
  • McQueen: Mark Whipple’s first QB committee in Nebraska lacks height, but no tools – or wheels
  • Live Updates: The Nebraska State High School Wrestling Championships
  • Chatel: Greg McDermott leaves Creighton? No way, this is a masterpiece of Mac
  • When Fred Heuberg returns to Chicago, there are parallels with the end of his coaching career in the NBA
  • A Nebraska senator is calling for an investigation into the lawmaker who photographed the employee
  • Results: Nebraska State High School Freestyle Wrestling Tournament, February 17
  • The cold front will bring dangerous chills from the wind to Omaha, eastern Nebraska
  • Brian Appleite preaches toughness to restore Nebraska’s “RBU” brand.
  • Lineman Creighton Prep Sam Sledge is committed to Huskers
  • A woman from Omaha, who gave birth on the sidewalk, told a friend that she used metametine, marijuana
  • The closure of nursing homes is forcing Nebraska seniors to ask, “Where do we go?”

How can we best answer these questions to achieve this goal of cancer prevention for Nebraska residents? Community-based education is crucial.

Nebraska has many unique cancer treatment factors, including our large rural population (34%), scattered across 67 of 93 counties. In the case of colorectal cancer, we know that variables in this distribution lead to differences in early diagnosis when diagnosed in rural areas later than in some urban areas. Similar differences probably exist with other cancers.

Just as there are disparities between villages and cities, Nebraska has many differences based on race, ethnicity, refugee status, family income, poverty, and level of education.

Each of the Nebraska communities, individually, is best prepared to understand and implement strategies to answer these questions posed by trusted peers in a way that will be accepted and understood in that community.

The Nebraska-based organization, which consists of health professionals, survivors, educators, individuals, and public and private organizations capable of developing and using available resources, will provide invaluable assistance in building the trust and long-term, sustainable partnerships needed to achieve our goal.

State Senator Robert Hilkeman introduced LB 1230 to provide funding to a nonprofit organization to achieve these educational goals. Massive contributions from each of our 93 counties will feed a neutral, diverse Nebraska organization working with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services to build on the foundation provided by the CDC Comprehensive Cancer Program. This, together with support from national, regional and local partners, uses the best opportunities to coordinate services, prevent duplication and use the approach that the local community needs to reach its unique population.

History has shown that effective public education and policy initiatives have achieved one of the most significant reductions in cancer morbidity and mortality. For example, education and politics helped reduce cigarette smoking among U.S. adults by 67% from 1965 to 2019.

If we do nothing more, this year Nebraska will have just over 11,000 new cancer diagnoses and more than 3,500 cancer deaths. Of the 108,000 cancer survivors, Nebraska has made good progress in reducing cancer incidence and increasing survival. However, much remains to be done to meet the needs of all Nebraska residents. Knowledge is power.

During the National Month for Cancer Prevention, my colleagues and I promise to continue to raise our voices in favor of individual cancer prevention education. In addition, I encourage Nebraska residents to spend time talking to their health care providers about what they can do now to reduce their personal risk of cancer.

Midlands Voices: We have all kinds of government mandates.  They are not excessive

State Sen. John McCallister writes, “Republican voters were so filled with lies from conservative talk radio, Fox News, and conspiratorial publications such as the OANN that any law was then seen as a draconian overstatement.”

Midlands Voices: The challenges of 2021 create solutions and opportunities

The last two years have taught us that we no longer have the luxury of working in silos.

Midlands Voices: In the Fight Against COVID, Nebraska Residents Can Look Back at Their Leadership in World War II

Kenneth Keith writes, “We have the opportunity again to rise to the benefit, to come together in the face of adversity.”

Midlands Voices: The Nebraska National Guard carries a tradition of service, sacrifice and honor

Gov. Pete Ricketts: “On behalf of all Nebraska residents, we thank members of the Nebraska National Guard for their dedicated service to our state.”

Midlands Voices: Omaha is at the crossroads of history;  The UN has solutions

Today, our state and our nation face the urgent needs for which the University of Nebraska at Omaha is strategically placed to provide solutions.

Midlands Voices: Expand access to abortion

State Sen. Megan Hunt plans to introduce a law that removes legal barriers to abortion in Nebraska.

Dr. Alan Thorson is chairman of the Nebraska Cancer Coalition, a nonprofit organization made up of more than 200 organizations consisting of local health departments, cancer centers, medical associations, health systems, and individual health professionals.


Leave a Comment